The University of Dallas held its annual Constitution Day celebration in upstairs Haggar Sunday night.
UD has a longstanding tradition of celebrating Constitution Day, beginning nearly forty years ago. This is unique, as most universities began celebrations only once the day became a federally observed holiday in 2004.
Many students and professors believe that UD “does it better.”
Constitution Day falls on Sept. 17 each year. Delegates of the Constitutional Convention signed and approved the United States Constitution on this date in 1787, though the states did not ratify the Constitution until July 1788.
Dr. David Upham of the Politics Department, which sponsored the event, suggests that symbolic authority is the reason that Constitution Day commemorates the day the document was finished, rather than when it was put into law.
It also explains why UD takes a special interest in the day, Upham said.
Many students in attendance were upperclassmen who admitted to having never attended a UD Constitution Day celebration. When asked why they decided to come this year, answers varied.
Quite a few cited Associate Professor of history Dr. Susan Hanssen’s enthusiastic advertisement of the event. Others were interested in Upham’s lecture on marriage and the constitution.
Some students proudly admitted that they came for the free food.
Attendees received small flags and songbooks, and children and students alike enjoyed coloring pages of George Washington and the American flag.
After a barbecue-style dinner, Upham gave a lecture entitled “Marriage and the Constitution: Something Old, Something New.”
The lecture explored the summer Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case that declared that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
Upham attempted to express how the court did “something old, something new” with their decision.
“What the courts did [reflected] precedence, but also something novel,” Upham said during his lecture. “[Obergefell represented] a new type of change.”
Upham ended his lecture by predicting the importance of the next presidential election in determining whether members of the Supreme Court will continue in their role as “avant garde” visionaries.
As many as three Supreme Court justices may need to be replaced in the next presidential term, changing the disposition of the entire court.
A routine sing-along of traditional patriotic songs commenced after Upham’s lecture. The selection represented a wide array of American values and historical viewpoints.
Of particular interest was the back-to-back singing of the Confederacy’s “The Bonnie Blue Flag” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” a Union-sympathetic song.
Both were sung with equal vigor, as though all in attendance believed that the American character could not be understood without both.
By the end of the evening, it didn’t seem necessary to ask why Constitution Day is such a prevalent and enduring tradition at UD.
The celebration attempted to balance the intellectual density of the Constitution and its history with levity and a sincere love of country, and it was clear the event is a cherished UD tradition.